Women empowered by waves at 21st annual Folly Beach Wahine Classic

Published: Jul. 30, 2023 at 1:06 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 30, 2023 at 11:38 PM EDT
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FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCSC) - The longest-running all-female surf contest on the East Coast has officially wrapped up with one big splash.

The Folly Beach Wahine Classic just celebrated its 21st year of females taking over the ocean in a traditionally male-dominated sport. Over 250 women hit the waves Sundayfrom as young as three years old all the way to 73.

The girls went out in 10-to-15-minute heats in their age groups, were scored by the judges and the winners took home a variety of prizes.

“Twenty-one years ago, there weren’t as many women in surfing and more recently, a lot more women have taken up surfing,” Nicole Elko, the director of the Folly Beach Wahine Classic, said. “A lot of younger girls get to see their moms, their grandmas crushing it winning surf contests. So, it’s really empowering, and it gives them the courage to get out there.”

Elko says they also had a sustainability raffle for other prizes to be more plastic-free. This event was partnered with local ocean-based non-profits like the Charleston Surfrider and Waves 4 Women.

“It is such a joyful event,” Elko said. “It makes us all so happy. We’ve all known each other for many years. We welcome new girls all the time and just to see everyone out here enjoying the day, catching waves and just feeling so strong and happy is what it’s all about.”

Click here to view the results of this weekend’s competition.